Somebody once said that the trouble with common sense is that it is not particularly common. And you would have to agree that the antics of our various elected officials over the past few years seem to support that view.

So what a pleasure it is to see that things are starting to change on the national stage and that a small selection of our politicians are beginning to react to our gradual decline with good ideas that actually make some sense and may even be possible to deliver.

We shouldn’t get too carried away, however. There is still plenty of ridiculous rhetoric coming out of Wellington, Auckland and elsewhere about what can and should be done, much of which is either unachievable or a likely waste of time.

But first the good news.

Auckland’s new mayor seems to be declaring a war on stupidity. His decision to put some focus on the $146 million the city is spending on “transport management”, or in other words, the orange cone business, is welcome news. As most of us who drive a vehicle know well, transport management has gone way beyond the needs of health and safety and into a zone of orange cones, over-employment and excessive cost, in effect, becoming an industry in its own right.

I recently observed the formation of a new driveway: a small job requiring a 3m-long carveout of the existing kerbing and a 3m by 1m area of concrete to take the new entrance over the kerb and past the grass berm to the footpath. Two people, a light truck, a concrete mixer, some builder’s mix, cement and water. It’s the sort of thing my generation would spend a Saturday afternoon doing with dad, after the morning footy. A generous person would suggest a half a day’s work. Maximum.

However, when you add in four lanes of orange cones, running for approximately 200m on either side of the driveway, plus a few extras in an adjacent side street, plus two more vehicles and an “observer” with a vehicle at each end, you start to see why our newly elected mayor has a good point. My rough guess is that the planning, placement and removal of the cones took considerably longer, and cost more, than the driveway itself.

Mayor Brown then trumped his traffic management call with his casting vote that saw Auckland decide to depart the clutches of Local Government New Zealand or LGNZ. It’s not that long ago that LGNZ, which seems to be a place where failed local body politicians end up, was trumpeting the Government’s Three Waters policy, and acting with utter surprise when a few councils put up their hands and challenged the concept.

I heard an LGNZ spokesperson on the radio justifying their incredulity at the Auckland decision, saying the city will lose a million dollars’ worth of benefits as a result of the cancellation of its $640,000 membership. What they, and plenty of other people who hang around the public trough fail to notice, is that the said benefits are only worthwhile if you need or want them. If they are unnecessary, of poor quality or surplus to requirements, you don’t lose anything at all.